Here we are in the holiday season for 2022, and while many business owners and entrepreneurs are planning for 2023, it's also the season for charitable giving. My family bought Christmas gifts this year for many “angels” on some of the community “angel trees” this year. Some people might also be thinking about starting a nonprofit in the new year. It seems every year I get at least one inquiry about starting a nonprofit, or someone has already started a nonprofit, and they need help continuing it, and are looking for a consultation. So, in today's Freedom Friday blog and email newsletter, I want to answer the question, “How can I start a nonprofit in 2023?”
First of all, if you're thinking about starting a nonprofit by yourself, you're out of luck. The law in Oklahoma requires at least three (3) people to start a nonprofit. If you have at least (3) people to start your nonprofit and form your initial board of directors, here are the five (5) steps to forming a nonprofit in Oklahoma:
Define Your Purpose
The first step to start a nonprofit in Oklahoma is to define your purpose. You need to be able to articulate a charitable purpose to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to qualify for 501(c)(3) status. It's important to hire an attorney to assist you with this first step because the charitable purpose statement must be included in your Certificate of Incorporation and/or your bylaws, both of which are required to be submitted with your application for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS.
Choose Your Nonprofit's Name
The second step to start a nonprofit in Oklahoma is to choose your nonprofit's name. This is also an important step because you can't choose a name taken by another nonprofit or being used by another for-profit entity. There are a lot of options here, but it's always best to consult with an attorney who can guide you in this process and conduct a name search with the Oklahoma Secretary of State. You might also consider a name that can be trademarked, so you might also ask your attorney to perform a trademark search on your behalf, as well.
Choose a Business Entity for Your Nonprofit
The third step to start a nonprofit in Oklahoma is to choose a business entity for your nonprofit. You might think that's easy, and that “501(c)(3)” is a business entity, but it's not, because “501(c)(3)” is a tax designation with the IRS. It's not a legal entity or business structure like an LLC. In Oklahoma, most nonprofits are formed as a nonprofit or nonstock corporation. In some limited circumstances, you can form an LLC, but you will need to meet 12 additional requirements with the IRS. If you form as a nonprofit corporation, the Oklahoma Secretary of State will require you to list three (3) incorporators for your nonprofit corporation. You can't form a nonprofit by yourself; it's a team sport.
Draft the Bylaws for Your Nonprofit
The fourth step to start a nonprofit in Oklahoma is to draft the nonprofit's bylaws. Your nonprofit's bylaws should be drafted by an attorney, and then signed by your board of directors. Not only should your bylaws include your purpose statement, but they should also define the responsibilities of the board of directors, and the roles of each officer of the nonprofit corporation.
Maintain Business Formalities
The fifth step to start a nonprofit in Oklahoma is to maintain business formalities. This is important because it is crucial to separate the assets of the nonprofit from your own personal assets, or from the assets of other for-profit businesses. The nonprofit needs to obtain its own EIN number with the IRS, and have its own bank account. It's also important to document everything, including the minutes of each board meeting.
If you're interested in starting a nonprofit in Oklahoma, or you already have an Oklahoma nonprofit and you're looking to grow, contact our experienced business attorney Jonathan Krems at [email protected], or call him directly at (918) 770-4335 to schedule a complimentary consultation.
For more information about Liberty Legal Solutions, LLC, please visit our website at http://www.libertylegalok.com/